Friday, 30 January 2009

There was this Cleveland dentist...

...and his name was Weston A. Price MS., D.D.S., F.A.G.D.

He was a dentist, so he got to see inside a lot of mouths. What he saw worried him - a lot. There's no point in me copying and pasting stuff that someone else has written, so read all about it at http://www.westonaprice.org/Weston-A.-Price-DDS.html

To sum-up. Mr Price travelled around the world with his wife looking inside the mouths of relatively primitive people, compared to the residents of Cleveland. What he saw impressed him - a lot. Considering that primitive people don't have access to clean water, food, medicine and other modern aids to living, they had hardly any tooth decay, gum disease or overcrowded teeth.

So he took lots of photographs, made lots of measurements and asked lots of questions. When he finished his travels, he wrote a book called Nutrition and Physical Degeneration A Comparison of Primitive and Modern Diets and Their Effects. You can read it at http://www.journeytoforever.org/farm_library/price/pricetoc.html

It's worth your while reading this book. The conclusions:-

Don't eat food that's been "buggered about with". Eat as much natural food as you can and prepare it in a way that maximises the nutrients and minimises the anti-nutrients. Don't worry about the fat in it, as fat contains the fat-soluble Vitamins A, D, E & K (but not enough D unless you live on a diet of oily fish, seals & beluga whales). For more information, see http://www.westonaprice.org/

That is all.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

So, when & where did it all go wrong?

No, I'm not talking about Demand Five! I'm talking about us, modern man & woman. We have improved hygiene, clean water & food, modern medicine, antibiotics, antivirals etc. We should be enjoying good health and vitality into our nineties. We're not, though. Degenerative diseases like Type 2 Diabetes, Coronary Heart Disease, Cancer, Dementia, IBS etc are afflicting increasing numbers of people (including youngsters) and are even starting to reduce our longevity statistics. Why?

On one side of the fence are the anti-animal fat brigade who claim that animal fats are the cause of all our health problems and that we should all be eating more vegetable fats and reducing our cholesterol.

On the other side of the fence are the anti-carb brigade who claim that carbohydrates are the cause of all our health problems and that we should all be eating less carbohydrates and increasing our fat consumption.

I'm sure you can guess where I am. I have the splinters to prove it!

In 1911, hydrogenated vegetable oil (Crisco) entered the marketplace. So, in 1911, fat turned bad! See The rise and fall of Crisco.

Interestingly, rates of Coronary Heart Disease started to rise from 1920, 9 years later. Co-incidence?

Our genes may have not changed much in the last few hundred thousand years, but our lifestyles certainly have. We now live mostly sedentary lives (which makes our muscles less sensitive to insulin). We now live and work mostly indoors (which makes us deficient in Vitamin D).

We now don't eat much oily fish. Our vegetables contain much less omega-3 fat than they used to (to make them stay fresh for longer). Our meat now contains much more omega-6 and much less omega-3 fat than it used to (due to feeding animals on grains). These changes make us deficient in omega-3 fat (which makes our muscles less sensitive to insulin).

We now eat loads of refined carbohydrate (which causes unstable blood glucose & insulin levels) and loads of processed foods (which makes us deficient in Magnesium and fibre/fiber).

As a result of all of the above changes, we have many modern diseases.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

I do NOT believe they wanted to be doing that!

As Harry Enfield's "It's only meee!" character used to say. I'm talking about Demand Five, Channel 5 TV's on-line "watch television on demand" service.

Up until last Friday, I was watching Neighbours using Firefox 3. Yes, I know that's really sad! On Monday, I went to watch Neighbours and was greeted by a new Media Player window displaying:
"Your flash plug-in is out of date
Please download the latest version here"
No problemo, thought I. I updated my flash plug-in and went back to watch Neighbours, to be greeted by the new Media Player window displaying:
"Your flash plug-in is out of date
Please download the latest version here"
Uh-oh! I contacted the Demand Five Support Team informing them of my problem. I got the following reply:

"Greetings,
Thank you for contacting the Demand Five Support Team.
Please try to access with Internet Explorer..."

I stopped reading at that point as I don't use Internet Explorer. I e-mailed the Support Team informing them of that fact. I got the following reply:

"Greetings,
We apologize for the inconvenience, since our contents are related with DRM therefore our service is only compatible with Internet Explorer. All other browsers (e.g., Firefox, Opera, Safari, etc...) are not compatible at this time..."

They left out Google Chrome! So basically, Demand Five just alienated a large number of their users by making their site incompatible with every browser except Internet Explorer. Thanks a bunch! (That's an ironic thank you, for the benefit of foreign readers).
As I really wanted to watch Neighbours, I ran Internet Explorer, updated my flash plug-in and off I went. Monday's episode played O.K. but Tuesday's episode stopped after the 15 second Weight-Watcher's intro'. I e-mailed the Support Team informing them of that fact. I got the following reply:

"Greetings,
Please upgrade your DRM security at the following site:
http://go.microsoft.com/FWLink?LinkID=34506

The Demand Five Support Team
downloadsupport@five.tv
AM"

I clicked the link and pressed the Upgrade button. It didn't work. I e-mailed the Support Team informing them of that fact. I got the following reply:

"Greetings,
Thank you for contacting the Demand Five Support Team.
Please follow the instructions given below:

Please open Windows Media Player (WMP)
In the menu area at the top of the WMP window, click "Tools"
If "Tools" is not visible, Right-click on the upper bar area on WMP and a Menu-list will appear
In the list that appears, choose "Options"
In the window that opens, the "Player" tab will be the first tab displayed
Please ensure that both "Download codecs automatically" and "Connect to the Internet" are selected
Please select the "File Types" tab
Click "Select All", located below and to the right of the list
Click "Apply", located at the bottom of the "Options" window
Please select the "Network" tab
In the "Protocols for MMS URLs" section, un-check "RTSP/UDP" and "RTSP/TCP"
Now, re-check "RTSP/UDP" and "RTSP/TCP"
All three protocols should now be selected
Click "OK" at the bottom of the "Options" Window
Please close Windows Media Player."

It worked. I e-mailed the Support Team informing them of that fact and also asked them why Demand Five couldn't be as easy to use as BBC iPlayer. I didn't get a reply. I have posted the above information so that you too can watch Neighbours....everybody needs good Neighbours....

UPDATE: The Demand Five media player now works with Firefox 3 and Safari. This may mean that it now also works with Opera & Chrome.
According to the support page, it's still not compatible with Firefox 3, so don't tell Demand Five in case they mess it up again!

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

The Protein-Sparing Modified Fast (PSMF)


What's a PSMF?

A standard PSMF is ~1g of protein for every kg bodyweight per day plus lots of green leafy vegetables plus six to ten fish oil capsules per day plus vitamin & mineral supplements plus unlimited water AND NOTHING ELSE. It's a low-carbohydrate and low-fat diet. You may find this quite literally hard to swallow! PSMF may also stand for Protein Strictly , Mother-F***er!

A 100kg person may get to eat ~400kcals per day from protein + ~100kcals per day from incidental carbohydrates & fats = ~500kcals per day. Hear that rumbling noise? It's my tummy! A well-known PSMF is Lyle McDonald's Rapid Fat Loss Handbook.

For more information, see http://forums.lylemcdonald.com/forumdisplay.php?f=7 and Is Rapid Fat Loss Right For You?

To make a PSMF easier to manage (but have a slower rate of weight loss), here are some modifications:-

1) Instead of six to ten fish oil capsules a day, stir ~25g of powdered linseeds into a large glass of drink and swallow the lot. Do this at breakfast-time. ~25g of linseeds contains ~10g of fat (of which ~6g is Alpha-Linolenic Acid, an omega-3 fatty acid) which does the following:-

a) It stimulates the gall-bladder to empty, thus reducing the risk of gallstones.
b) a) usually results in a bowel movement some time later. The ~10g of soluble fibre/fiber in the linseeds + accompanying fluid guarantees regularity.
c) It provides women (but not men) with all of the omega-3 fat they need each day.

Men need to eat either half a 213g tin of wild red salmon per day, or take six to ten fish oil capsules a day, as their bodies don't produce enough DHA from Alpha-Linolenic Acid. See Eicosapentaenoic and docosapentaenoic acids are the principal products of α-linolenic acid metabolism in young men and  Extremely Limited Synthesis of Long Chain Polyunsaturates in Adults: Implications for their Dietary Essentiality and use as Supplements

2) Eat about 100g of protein per day. As meat, poultry & fish contains 20-25% protein, this means that you can eat ~1lb of meat, poultry & fish a day. 100g of protein per day is well within the capabilities of your liver and kidneys.

3) Eat about 44g of fat per day. This allows you to choose less lean cuts of meat & poultry and you can even eat the skin on chicken as long as you factor it into your total fat allowance. It also allows you to use vinaigrette salad dressings or a small knob of butter or a small dollop of real mayonnaise to make your vegetables taste nicer.

4) Eat about 50g of carbohydrate per day. This allows you to eat shed-loads of leafy green vegetables and also an onion. It also allows you to eat a portion of fruit e.g. an apple or a bowl of berries/cherries with Splenda & a small dollop of whipped cream each day.

5) If you do any intense exercise (e.g. HIIT or resistance training with weights), eat an extra 50g of slow-release carbohydrates a couple of hours beforehand, to fuel it.

6) Supplement with 5,000iu/day of Vitamin D3. Nowadays, many of us spend our lives mostly indoors, and this causes many of us to become deficient in Vitamin D. See Vitamin D.

7) Don't get too far away from a toilet. Rapid depletion of muscle & liver glycogen results in rapid shedding of associated water. In addition, the oxidation of fatty acids results in the production of water. A PSMF will make you pee more.

n*CH2 + 3/2*n*O2 = n*CO2 + n*H2O + heat

Saturated fatty acids are CH3-n*CH2-COOH. For Stearic acid, n=16. ∴ Stearic acid is mostly n*CH2. 



In conclusion:

100g of protein provides 400kcals, 44g of fat provides 400kcals and 50g of carbohydrate provides 200kcals, making a grand total of 1,000kcals per day. Hopefully, this will be enough to stop your tummy from rumbling. If you weigh over 100lbs but aren't losing weight on 1,000kcals per day, see your GP as you may have a thyroid problem.

I believe that the above diet tackles the problems of gallstones, constipation, dry skin, dry hair, depression and dietary deficiencies. You get to eat real food and quite a lot of it too, for a fairly rapid fat loss diet.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Very Low Calorie Diets (VLCDs)

A well-known VLCD is The Cambridge Diet. Lighter Life is another VLCD.

The VLCD is, as its name suggests, very low in Calories and is aimed at morbidly obese people i.e. people who have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of over 40. Such people are at a very high risk of dropping dead of a heart attack and they are also at a high risk of complications caused by high blood pressure, high blood glucose, high blood triglycerides, high blood cholesterol, high blood LDL-c, low blood HDL-c and high blood uric acid. In addition, morbidly obese people have breathing problems e.g. sleep apnoea and they are also at a high risk of dying while under anaesthetic if they need to be operated on. Such people need to lose weight rapidly. However, people who are overweight (BMI 25-29.9) or obese (BMI 30-39.9) or who are just unhappy with their bodies should not embark on a VLCD as the risks outweigh the benefits.

1) VLCDs result in rapid weight loss. You may think that this is a good thing, but rapid weight loss brings with it problems.

a) Excessive loss of muscle. This is more of a problem for women who, because they have naturally-low testosterone levels, have great difficulty regaining any lost muscle.

b) High risk of developing Gallstones. Rapid weight loss results in an increase in the concentration of cholesterol in bile. This increases the risk factor for gallstones, something that women have a higher risk factor for than men. There's an acronym FFFF for people who are at a high risk of developing gallstones. It stands for Female, Forty, Fat, Fair. What makes the situation even worse is that VLCDs are very low in fat. The gallbladder is a muscular bag which stores bile. When dietary fat is eaten, this stimulates the secretion of cholecystokinin, which then stimulates contraction of the gallbladder muscle, which expels bile from inside the gallbladder into the duodenum. The lower the fat content of a meal, the less the gallbladder contracts and gallbladder stasis can result with only 2g of fat per meal. See The role of gallbladder emptying in gallstone formation during diet-induced rapid weight loss. The problem with this study is that the two groups of subjects were not eating the same number of calories. See Gallbladder motility and gallstone formation in obese patients following very low calorie diets. Use it (fat) to lose it (well) and Similarity in gallstone formation from 900 kcal/day diets containing 16 g vs 30 g of daily fat: evidence that fat restriction is not the main culprit of cholelithiasis during rapid weight reduction.
In these studies, both groups were on the same calorie intake. In the second study, 17% of the low-fat group developed gallstones whereas only 11.2% of the higher-fat group developed gallstones.

The other problem with a very low fat intake is EFA deficiency. Essential Fatty Acids are called that for a reason....they are essential for us to live. Dry skin & hair are common on VLCDs. The small amount of fat that there is in a VLCD almost certainly contains mostly omega-6 polyunsaturates. A lack of omega-3 EFAs can adversely affect mental function. Depression is common on VLCDs. See Omega-3 fatty acids and major depression: A primer for the mental health professional. Another problem with very low fat intakes is a lack of fat-soluble vitamins, particularly Vitamins D3 and K. See Vitamin D and Vitamin K.

2) VLCDs contain excessive amounts of sugars. This has two problems.

a) Unstable blood glucose & insulin levels. See Blood Glucose, Insulin & Diabetes. You don't notice peaks in blood glucose & insulin. However, a huge peak in blood insulin followed by a drop to normal causes severe hunger pangs. See How low-carbohydrate diets result in more weight loss than high-carbohydrate diets for people with Insulin Resistance or Type 2 Diabetes. Some people suffer from neurosis. See Hypoglycemia & Neurosis.

b) Sedentary people's bodies don't burn much carbohydrate. See Everyone is Different. At rest, on average a fasted person derives ~65% of energy from fats and ~35% from carbohydrate, although there are extremes of 93% fat-burning to 20% fat-burning. Even if someone who has full glycogen stores derives 100% of their energy at rest from carbohydrate, as they are only burning ~1kcal/minute at rest, their body is only burning 0.25g of carbohydrate/minute. So why feed someone carbohydrate when their body doesn't need it?

c) People with excess belly fat almost certainly have The Metabolic Syndrome. This causes various problems including high serum triglycerides (TGs). Eating carbohydrate that isn't burned and can't be stored raises TGs. I know about this as I have blood test results which showed TGs increasing with increasing carbohydrate intake. High TGs are bad news for your arteries. See Cholesterol And Coronary Heart Disease.

3) VLCDs don't contain enough protein. Protein supplies Amino Acids (AAs) to the body. These are used to preserve muscle mass. AAs can also be used to generate blood glucose in the liver by a process called Gluconeogenesis (GNG), which makes the consumption of carbohydrates redundant for most sedentary people.

4) VLCDs don't contain enough fibre/fiber. Constipation is common on VLCDs.

In my next Blog post, I will discuss a Rapid Fat Loss alternative to the VLCD that overcomes all of the above problems and is therefore much safer and more pleasant to be on. See The Protein-Sparing Modified Fast (PSMF)

For a discussion of VLCDs, see What do you think of Very Low Energy Diets?

Friday, 23 January 2009

Why exercise may or may not help you to lose weight.

Exercise. I hate it! I'm about as active as a Brazilian 2-toed Sloth. The problem that I had with exercise is that it made me hungry and I ended up eating more Calories than I burned by exercising. This was due to me doing it wrong! See Move More: Solutions to problems and Exercise decreases appetite.

The thing about exercise in moderation, is that it's good for health & fitness. The problem is that some people think that doing lots more is better. It ain't necessarily so. The 38 year old lady sitting near me at karaoke last night used to run a lot when she was at school. She now needs a replacement knee joint due to damaged cartilage and she had her knee wired up to a TENS machine. See A little moderate to vigorous physical activity does more than you think.

Too much early morning exercise can also make you ill, by raising serum cortisol level. High cortisol level is immunosuppressive. See Early morning exercise could make you ill. High cortisol level also causes water retention, so people who over-exercise can gain water weight. Chronically-high cortisol levels can also cause muscle loss, thin skin and osteoporosis.

Starving yourself and over-exercising makes things even worse. From WHY is the combination of high intensity and/or long duration activity a mistake when calories are being severely restricted?

"Water retention: cortisol binds to the mineralocorticoid receptor (the receptor involved in water retention, well one of them). And although cortisol has 1/100th of the effect on water balance of the primary hormones (aldosterone and a couple of others), since there is like 8000 times as much of it, it can cause a major effect."

"Excessive cortisol, especially chronic elevations cause other problems not the least of which is leptin resistance. Which only magnifies the drop in leptin from dieting. This could be another mechanism behind the greater drop in metabolic rate for the study I mentioned above."

So, what's the best thing to do for maximum fat loss with minimum muscle loss? A mixture of high-intensity exercise (resistance training with weights, or sprinting) and medium-intensity exercise (jogging) (a.k.a. High-Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT) is better than just medium-intensity exercise. See Resistance Weight Training With Endurance Training Enhances Fat Loss, Impact of Exercise Intensity on Body Fatness and Skeletal Muscle Metabolism and HIIT & Run.

One theory to try and explain the improved fat loss of HIIT is that Calories are burned after the high-intensity exercise is finished. However, the Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) only amounts to ~35kcals, so it isn't significant. It's almost certainly the appetite-suppressive effect of exercise that makes you glow, that results in reduced Calories in.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Magnesium: Just as important as Calcium.

Suffering from anxiety/depression? Can't get to sleep? Suffering from night cramps/restless legs/menstrual cramps/muscle spasms/asthma/migraines? You may be deficient in magnesium. See Magnesium and the Brain: The Original Chill Pill , Magnesium and the Ketamine Connection , A case of oesophageal spasm, and the ‘unproven’ treatment that helped it and Around the Web; and Menstrual Cramp Remedy.

After Vitamin D and Omega-3 fats, magnesium is the third nutrient in which people are likely to be deficient. Processed foods are low in magnesium. Diets low in green vegetables are low in magnesium, as chlorophyll has magnesium at the centre of the molecule. For a list of the 999 richest sources of magnesium per 100g serving, see http://nutritiondata.self.com/foods-000120000000000000000-w.html. Too much calcium can result in a relative magnesium deficiency.

An optimum intake of magnesium is approximately 50% of your calcium intake. Other sources of magnesium are Milk of Magnesia (magnesium hydroxide) and Epsom Salts (magnesium sulphate heptahydrate). A large amount (~4g) of Epsom Salts taken in one dose acts as an osmotic laxative, but spreading the same amount over 24 hours has no laxative effect. Approximately a level teaspoonful (~4g) of Epsom Salts gives you ~400mg of magnesium. Epsom Salts is as cheap as chips.

Magnesium is also available as a dietary supplement. Magnesium oxide (Magnesia) isn't as well-absorbed as magnesium citrate/amino acid chelate, so take extra if using oxide. See Magnesium bioavailability from magnesium citrate and magnesium oxide. Magnesium can be absorbed through the skin, so adding Epsom Salts or Magnesium Chloride to your bathwater is another option.

6.1.15. New article: Magnesium in Man: Implications for Health and Disease.

Friday, 16 January 2009

I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts!

Coconut Oil is the No. 1 most stable oil for cooking at high temperatures.

What’s in coconut oil?

According to McCance and Widdowson's “The Composition of Foods”, the fatty acid composition of coconut oil is as follows:-
Name(:0=sat, :1=mono, :2=poly, n6=omega-6) Quantity (%)
Caprylic Acid (C8:0)___________________________7.5
Capric Acid (C10:0)____________________________7.1
Lauric Acid (C12:0)___________________________47.7
Myristic Acid (C14:0)_________________________15.8
Palmitic Acid (C16:0)__________________________9.0
Stearic Acid (C18:0)___________________________2.4
Arachidic Acid (C20:0)_________________________1.0
Palmitoleic Acid (C16:1)_______________________0.4
Oleic Acid (C18:1)_____________________________6.6
Linoleic Acid (C18:2 n6)_______________________1.8


Won’t all that saturated fat give me a heart attack?

Whether or not you get coronary heart disease depends on your whole diet. According to http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/34/8/1552.abstract , Pukapukans got 26% (male) to 30% (female) of their total Calories from saturated fats. Tokelauans got 47% (male) to 49% (female) of their total Calories from saturated fats. Tokelauans had total serum cholesterol 35-40mg/dL (0.9- 1.03mmol/L) higher than Pukapukans.

As Tokelauans were getting about seven times more energy from saturated fats than the 7% that current healthy eating guidelines recommend, they must have been dropping like flies from coronary heart disease or strokes, right? Wrong! To quote:-

“Vascular disease is uncommon is both populations and there is no evidence of the high saturated fat intake having a harmful effect in these populations.” 

How come? Well, if you look at the rest of the Tokelauans’ diet, you’ll see virtually no refined sugar or cereal products. Basically, they weren’t eating any junk. When Tokelauans migrated to New Zealand, their sat fat intake fell to ~41% of total calories, but as they were eating more refined carbs & sugar, their lipid profile got worse.

What are the benefits of coconut oil?

Medium-chain fatty acids are metabolised rapidly without passing through the liver and they provide a quick source of energy for muscles. There is some evidence that medium-chain fatty acids stimulate the thyroid gland to secrete more T4 & T3 which can be an aid when cutting. There is also some evidence that Lauric Acid has anti-bacterial & anti-viral properties. Coconut oil is also good for the skin when rubbed in.

Where can I buy coconut oil?

Don’t buy cheap coconut oil. It’s almost certainly Refined, Bleached & Deodorised, which detracts from its health benefits. The best coconut oils are Organic Virgin Oils. Some good on-line sources are:-

http://www.fresh-coconut.com/ , Coconut Oil UK and https://www.revital.co.uk/search?q=Coconut+Oil

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

As sure as Eggs is Eggs.....

...is grammatically incorrect! Rumour has it that it's a corruption of "As sure as x = x". But anyway....

Eggs are very nutritious and should be eaten freely as part of a healthy diet.

Click http://www.nutritiondata.com/facts/dairy-and-egg-products/111/2 and set the serving size to 1 large (50g) to see what nutrients there are in a raw whole egg.

Click http://www.nutritiondata.com/facts/dairy-and-egg-products/112/2 and set the serving size to 1 large (33g) to see what nutrients there are in a raw egg white.

Click http://www.nutritiondata.com/facts/dairy-and-egg-products/113/2 and set serving size to 1 large (17g) to see what nutrients there are in a raw egg yolk.

The amino acid scores for whole egg , white and yolk are 136, 145 and 146 respectively. Eggs are a good source of complete proteins. This is because the yolk and white need to contain everything necessary for a growing chick embryo.


Can I drink eggs raw to save time?There are three potential problems with this:

1) Salmonella poisoning. Unless you’re pretty sure of the hens that the eggs came from, there is a risk of poisoning from raw eggs. This doesn’t apply to pasteurised eggs from suppliers like http://www.eggnation.co.uk/ for example.

2) Poor absorption of egg white protein. According to http://jn.nutrition.org/cgi/content/full/128/10/1716 , only 51% of raw egg white protein is absorbed during digestion compared to 91% for cooked egg white protein. According to http://ajpgi.physiology.org/cgi/content/full/277/5/G935 , the figures are 65% and 94% respectively. The second study used 200g of white and one yolk. I don’t believe that there is a problem with the absorption of raw egg yolk, though problem 1 still remains. Pasteurised egg white protein is well absorbed.

3) Poor biotin absorption. Raw egg white contains a glycoprotein called avidin which binds to biotin (Vit. B7) in the yolk and prevents its absorption. Cooking or pasteurisation denatures (changes the 3-D structure of) the avidin and renders it harmless.


What about all that cholesterol in egg yolks?

Current “Healthy Eating” guidelines state that we should eat no more than 3 egg yolks/whole eggs per week. This is based on the erroneous assumption that dietary cholesterol always increases serum cholesterol and that this is always a bad thing. According to Effect of dietary egg on human serum cholesterol and triglycerides, adding or not adding 500mg of dietary cholesterol from two large eggs per day made no significant difference to serum cholesterol or triglycerides in 116 healthy male subjects. Some went up and some went down. Eddie Vos at http://www.health-heart.org/cholesterol.htm reckons that you’d have to eat 20 whole eggs per day to get as much dietary cholesterol as the liver produces each day (5g). Egg yolks do contain some fat and this should be factored into your total diet. If you happen to have the genes for familial hypercholesterolaemia, then you need to keep a close eye on dietary cholesterol intake. See also Eat Whole Eggs All Day and Throw Your Statins Away? 375x Increased Dietary Cholesterol Intake From Eggs Reduces Visceral Fat & Promotes Healthy Cholesterol Metabolism.

There is a problem with modern eggs though, and it’s caused by the food that’s fed to the hens. Grains contain about 50 times more Linoleic acid (omega-6) than Alpha-Linolenic acid (omega-3) and this raises the omega-6:omega-3 ratio of the eggs that the hens lay. Hens eating a natural diet of bugs, grubs and vegetation lay eggs with a 1:1 ratio of omega-6:omega-3, but grain-fed hens lay eggs with an omega-6:omega-3 ratio of >10:1. A high omega-6:omega-3 ratio in the diet is associated with increased risk factors for heart disease, cancer and Insulin Resistance (pre-type 2 diabetes). Therefore, if large numbers of cheapo eggs are eaten, it’s advisable to eat other foods that are rich in omega-3 fats.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Linseed/Flaxseed & Flaxseed oil.

"Where flax is eaten...health abounds!" - Mahatma Gandhi.

These little seeds pack a quadruple-whammy of protein, omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs), soluble fibre/fiber and vitamins, minerals & other anutrients.


What's in flaxseed and flaxseed oil?

Click http://www.nutritiondata.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3163/2 and set serving size: to 100g, to see what nutrients there are in flaxseeds.
Click http://www.nutritiondata.com/facts/fats-and-oils/7554/2 and set serving size: to 100g, to see what nutrients there are in flaxseed oil.


How do I eat flaxseed and flaxseed oil?

Flaxseed/Linseed have a fibrous coat which swells-up when wet and passes through our guts undigested. To get the benefit of the protein, omega-3 essential fatty acids, vitamins & minerals in flaxseeds, the seeds need to be powdered, crushed, cracked, chopped-up, sliced-up or ground-up using a coffee grinder, adjustable pepper grinder or most simply, a blender with a sharp blade.

The resulting powder can be mixed with liquids or sprinkled on foods, though extra fluid must be drunk, as the soluble fibre/fiber absorbs a lot of water.

Although whole flaxseed keeps fresh at room temperature, once powdered, it's advisable to keep the powder in a cool dark place to minimise oxidation of any exposed fat. Flaxseed oil must be kept refrigerated with the lid on the bottle at all times after opening and it must never be used for cooking.

The oil is O.K. drizzled over hot food, as long as the food is eaten shortly afterwards. Oxidised flaxseed oil tastes bitter and has lost its health benefits, so it should either be chucked, used to varnish something or soften hardened putty. Unoxidised flaxseed oil has a nutty flavour, or it may taste a bit like tea. Powdered flaxseed has virtually no flavour.

See Milled flaxseed stability information.


How much flaxseeds and flaxseed oil do I need to eat each day?

Men are much poorer converters of alpha-linolenic acid (the omega-3 fatty acid in flaxseed) into DHA than women.

See Eicosapentaenoic and docosapentaenoic acids are the principal products of α-linolenic acid metabolism in young men,

Conversion of α-linolenic acid to eicosapentaenoic, docosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids in young women and

Extremely Limited Synthesis of Long Chain Polyunsaturates in Adults: Implications for Their Dietary Essentiality and Use as Supplements.

Therefore, men should eat ~50g/day of ground flaxseed and women should eat ~25g/day. The amount of flaxseed oil for men is ~20g/day and the amount for women is ~10g/day. Vegan men should also supplement with ~1000mg/day of vegan DHA.


Where can I buy flaxseeds and flaxseed oil?

Flaxseed/linseed come in different colours. The cheapest linseed are brown/bronze ones which are often sold as bird seed in pet shops, but they can also be found in small independent health food shops. There are also golden linseed, which is the type most often found in supermarkets. Linusit and Granovita are two well-known brands. Granovita organic flaxseed oil is a good brand and it comes in dark bottles to keep light out, as light causes photo-oxidation of omega-3 fats.

Friday, 9 January 2009

Food Combining: What's THAT all about?

Some people believe in food combining, as per The Hay Diet i.e. don't eat protein with carbohydrate as protein needs acid conditions to digest and carbohydrate needs alkaline conditions to digest. This theory assumes that the human digestion system is like a big barrel where all foods get digested at the same time. This isn't the case.

The following is cribbed (with edits) from the bodybuilding.com message board (you didn't think I wrote all this, did ya?)


DIGESTION 101

The order you eat foods in does not make a difference to how they are digested. Once foods hit your stomach, the peristaltic motion (that is - the muscles in your stomach wall contracting) mix it all together regardless. In addition, the different enzymes that are released are released regardless of the order that you eat your food.

In your stomach:-
The presence of food in your stomach stimulates:-

1) Gastrin - this is what is responsible for the eventual release of Hydrochloric Acid (HCl) - stomach acid.
2) Pepsinogen - this is converted to pepsin by the acid in your stomach. Pepsin is important in the digestion of proteins.

In the small intestine:-
Once food hits the small intestine the pancreas and gall bladder are stimulated:-

1) Pancreas - It secretes many enzymes which help digest proteins, starches and triglycerides (fats).
2) Liver/gall-bladder - This is responsible for making and secreting bile. This is important in fat digestion. It is stimulated more when you eat fatty foods. The small intestine itself is also important, but it actually does not secrete anything. It acts to further digest the carbohydrates, proteins and fats, due to enzymes that are bound to the wall of the intestines, and then acts to absorb these things.

So - digestion occurs in two parts - the Luminal phase - which involves all of the enzymes that are secreted by the stomach, pancreas and liver. And the Membranous phase which is that which occurs because of the enzymes attached to the intestinal wall. It does not matter when you eat carbohydrates or proteins or fats during a meal, because the simple stimulus of food in your digestive tract will cause the secretion of the luminal enzymes (although as you increase your fat, you will stimulate more fat enzymes to be released).

Carbohydrates:-
Starches are the only type of carbohydrates to undergo luminal phase of digestion. This results from enzymes (called amylases) that are released from the pancreas. These act to break down the long starches into shorter polysaccharides (intermediate chains called dextrins). These are then cleaved again to form Disaccharides or trisaccharides (such as maltose or maltotriose). Sugars and the trisaccharides and disaccharides from the starches are then further digested in the Membranous phase. This involves enzymes (such as lactase - for the breakdown of lactose, sucrase for the digestion of sucrose and maltase for the breakdown of maltose) that are bound to the intestinal wall. So - these enzymes act on lactose, sucrose and the di and trisaccharides from the breakdown of starch to form glucose, galactose and fructose. These are then absorbed across the intestinal wall and enter the blood to go to the liver. The liver then takes up most of the glucose/galactose and all of the fructose and converts it into glycogen or fats while the rest stays in the blood for the rest of the body.

Proteins:-
These are broken down in a similar fashion as carbs. But - the enzymes involved in protein breakdown are secreted by the stomach (pepsin and chymosin) and the pancreas. There are lots of different enzymes involved in protein breakdown (because of the large variety of amino acids). So - digestion of proteins begins in the stomach with the secretion of HCl and pepsin which begin to cleave the long protein molecules. This then continues in the small intestines with the secretion of pancreatic enzymes. These smaller chains of amino acids (called peptides) are then either broken down by membranous phase enzymes on the intestine cells to form amino acids or are absorbed as dipeptides or tripeptides and then convert to simple amino acids by the cells. The amino acids are then released into the blood and are taken to the liver. In the liver, some of the amino acids go straight into circulation for the muscles, some are used directly for protein synthesis, but the rest are processed to enter the pathway of energy metabolism, carbohydrate formation or fatty acid formation.

Fats:-
This is a little different. Fat is harder to digest because it does not dissolve in the fluids in your gut. The digestion of fat is divided into four stages:-

1) Emulsification - This begins in the stomach and involves the warming and mixing of the fats. This breaks the fats into globules. The bile acids from the liver are then secreted into the intestines and make the fat droplets even smaller.
2) Hydrolysis - Enzymes from the pancreas (lipases) then act on the fats to form smaller molecules.
3) Micelle formation - These smaller molecules (free fatty acids, cholesterol, single chain fats etc) combine with bile to form tiny, droplets called micelles.
4) Absorption - The micelles then attach to the intestinal wall and all the components (except the bile) are then absorbed. These are then packaged (into things called chylomicrons) and secreted by the intestinal cells into tiny tubes in your intestinal wall called lacteals which take the fats to your heart, which then enters the back of your heart, which then pumps it around the body. These are then taken up by the liver or the fat cells. These processes in the intestine take a while to complete (depending on what you eat) and so eating one thing 5 minutes after the other will make no difference.

That said, there are certain combinations of food which are less desirable than others, but not for reasons of digestion.

Don't eat fruit and protein foods at the same time. Fruit passes through the gut very quickly (possibly due to the fibre/fiber and simple sugar content stimulating peristalsis) and if eaten with or just after slow-digesting foods like meat or eggs, makes the protein pass through the small intestine faster than normal resulting in incomplete protein absorption and subsequent fermentation in the colon, producing smelly flatulence!

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Vegetarians & vegans, listen up!

By vegetarian, I mean someone who does not eat the flesh of animals. This includes fish and chicken. By vegan, I mean someone who does not eat any animal produce, including milk or eggs.

Dr. Michael Greger M.D. ("The Vegan M.D.") has an informative and witty lecture "Optimum Vegetarian Nutrition: Omega 3 and B12".


In a nutshell, vegetarians & vegans don't live any longer than omnivores – as shown in a study of 28,000 subjects. Vegetarians & vegans have the same rates of coronary heart disease as omnivores, but double the rates of degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer's Disease. WHY? There are two reasons.

1) Vegetarians and vegans don't eat oily fish and most don't eat cracked or ground-up flaxseed/linseed either. This means a deficiency in omega-3 fats. This increases the risk of diabetes, certain cancers and coronary heart disease.

Men are much poorer converters of alpha-linolenic acid (the omega-3 fatty acid in flaxseeds/linseeds) into DHA than women.

See Eicosapentaenoic and docosapentaenoic acids are the principal products of α-linolenic acid metabolism in young men,

Conversion of α-linolenic acid to eicosapentaenoic, docosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids in young women and

Extremely Limited Synthesis of Long Chain Polyunsaturates in Adults: Implications for Their Dietary Essentiality and Use as Supplements.

2) Only animal produce naturally contains Vitamin B12. Lack of B12 in the diet raises the level of homocysteine in the blood, which damages artery walls. This raises the risk of coronary heart disease & doubles the risk of degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer's Disease.

Also:-
3) Diets low in Vitamin K2 increase the risk factor for CHD, osteoporosis and weak teeth. See Vitamin K.

What to do?

1) Eat ~25g/day of ground flaxseeds (or supplement with ~10g/day of flaxseed oil). Vegan men should also supplement with ~1000mg/day vegan DHA.

2) Eat foods fortified with vegan B12 or supplement with vegan B12.

3) Eat foods high in Vitamin K2. See For Vegans for a list of things to maximise health on a vegan diet.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Gluten - more than just a pain in the guts?

Remember the advert "I'm feeling a bit bloated". "Here, have some Bifidus Digestivum!"? I wonder what percentage of the population suffers from bloating, gas pains, constipation, IBS or some degree of failure to absorb the nutrients from their food?

People with Coeliac Disease (CD) or Dermatitis Herpetiformis (DH) (intensely itchy spots on pressure points) have to avoid gluten as much as possible, as it produces an auto-immune response with antibodies that attack their own bodies. However, gluten is also implicated in other conditions due to molecular mimicry. Sjogren's syndrome (dry eyes & other bits) and cerebellar ataxia (brain damage) are mentioned in a huge article by Loren Cordain Cereal Grains: Humanity’s Double-Edged Sword.

This article suggests that there are conditions other than CD & DH which can be helped by switching from gluten-containing grains (wheat, rye, oats, barley & spelt) to non gluten-containing ones (rice, corn, quinoa, buckwheat, millet & amaranth). Luckily, supermarkets like Tesco, Waitrose and Sainsbury's now have a large "Free from" section, which makes finding gluten-free substitutes for breads, cakes, biscuits & breakfast cereals etc a lot easier.

EDIT: See also Keep 'em tight.

Monday, 5 January 2009

I was just thinking......

On a messageboard in a galaxy far far away, someone suggested that as many as one in three people in the UK could have impaired carbohydrate metabolism. This set me thinking.

London is 51degrees North of the Equator, so the sun has to pass through ~45% more atmosphere to reach us, compared to the Equator.

According to Elina Hyppönen & Chris Power, (edited) "The prevalence of hypovitaminosis D was highest during the winter and spring, when 25(OH)D concentrations less than 75nmol/L were found in 87.1% of participants, respectively; the proportion was 60.9%, respectively, during the summer and autumn."

Note that 75nmol/L was insufficient to give me normal Insulin Sensitivity. See Chiu, Chu, Go & Saad. However, greater than 160nmol/L was sufficient, but that was only obtained after I supplemented with 5,000iu/day of Vitamin D3 (25 x RDA).

A deficiency of omega-3 EFAs can cause Insulin Resistance (poor Insulin Sensitivity). See Ghafoorunissa, Ahamed Ibrahim, Laxmi Rajkumar & Vani Acharya, Storlien LH, Kraegen EW, Chisholm DJ, Ford GL, Bruce DG & Pascoe WS and Yam D, Bott-Kanner G, Friedman J, Genin I, Klainman E & Shinitzky M.The typical omega-6:omega-3 ratio in the British diet is ~15:1. This is partly due to the fact that animal produce from grain-fed animals contains a lot more omega-6 and a lot less omega-3 than it used to. See Is food less nutritious than it used to be? Andre Purvis investigates. In addition, people eat grains, nuts, seeds, oils & spreads high in omega-6 and don't eat much oily fish, powdered Flax-seeds (a.k.a. Linseeds) or Purslane (a plant that's relatively high in omega-3).

With all of these problems, I wonder what percentage of the UK population actually do have some degree of impaired carbohydrate metabolism?
It might be more than one in three.

According to The eatwell plate, one third of our total Calories are supposed to come from bread, rice, potatoes, pasta and other starchy foods. Some of these foods rapidly raise blood glucose a lot. Impaired carbohydrate metabolism makes for roller-coaster blood glucose levels which encourages over-eating, leading to obesity (see my Blog post on Blood Glucose, Insulin & Diabetes.)

I think that that's enough thinking for now.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Everybody knows.........Part 2

.........that ketogenic diets like the Atkins diet destroy your kidneys and rot your bones, right? Wrong!
.........that the Atkins diet causes ketoacidosis which is a very dangerous condition requiring urgent hospital treatment, right? Wrong!

There's a lot of nonsense spoken about ketogenic diets by people who really should know better. I suspect that they have been taught wrongly at uni or med school as per the quote in Everybody knows.........Part 1.

Benign Dietary Ketosis is NOT Ketoacidosis.

Consider the following four cases:- Note: Figures are from "Introduction to Nutrition and Metabolism" By David A Bender (Senior Lecturer in Biochemistry, UCL)

1) Healthy human, fed state: Glycogen stores are replete. Serum glucose = ~5.5mmol/L. Serum fatty acids = ~0.3mmol/L. Serum ketones = 0mmol/L. No gluconeogenesis is taking place. Amino acid pool is replete. Cortisol level is normal so there is no loss of muscle mass.

2) Healthy human, fasting for 7 days: Glycogen stores are depleted. Serum glucose falls to ~3.5mmol/L. Serum fatty acids rise to ~1.2mmol/L. Serum ketones (mainly D-3-hydroxybutyrate) rise to ~4.5mmol/L (not high enough to cause acidosis). Gluconeogenesis is occurring. Amino acid pool is depleted. Cortisol level is high, causing slow loss of muscle mass. This is bad ketosis.

3) Healthy human, low-carbohydrate diet: Glycogen stores are depleted. Serum glucose falls to ~5mmol/L.
Serum fatty acids rise to ~1.2mmol/L. Serum ketones (mainly D-3-hydroxybutyrate) rise to ~4.5mmol/L (not high enough to cause acidosis). Gluconeogenesis is occurring. Amino acid pool is replete (due to protein intake). Cortisol level is normal so there is no loss of muscle mass. This is good ketosis.

4) Human with untreated type 1 diabetes: Glycogen stores are depleted. Due to lack of insulin, the Glu-T4 transporters in cells cannot move to the surface so glucose cannot enter cells. Serum glucose = >20mmol/L. This causes major damage to kidneys, arteries, eyes, nerves etc by cross-linking with proteins (glycation) resulting in major disability and eventual death. As the body is forced to run on fatty acids & ketones, metabolic processes are out of control and ketones rise to much higher levels than in 2) or 3) (I don't know how high exactly) resulting in acidosis and eventual death. This is ketoacidosis.

Conclusion: Low-carbohydrate, very-low-carbohydrate & ketogenic dieting is similar to fasting in that serum glucose levels are lower than normal and glycogen stores are depleted. The body is encouraged to burn less glucose and more fatty acids & ketones, but the metabolic processes are all under control. The big difference between low-carbohydrate dieting and fasting is in the amino acid pool and cortisol levels.

Everybody knows.........Part 1

Yesterday, on a message-board in a galaxy far far away, I was informed by a Nutritionist with letters after her name:-

"As a health and fitness scientist, I have to agree with the overwhelming body of peer reviewed evidence that shows high fat diets are dangerous over a long period of time, and that an athletic diet includes complex carbs taken regularly throughout the day."

To which I replied:-

"Apart from epidemiological evidence (which is highly suspect as there are too many variables), can you show me some solid evidence that "high fat" hypocaloric or isocaloric diets are dangerous over a long period of time? Obviously, high fat hypercaloric diets are dangerous as they cause weight gain.....as do all hypercaloric diets."

Followed by:-

"What if what you were taught was wrong? Read Dr. Schwarzbein's Personal Experiences - Background to first book.

"In medical training, I was taught that a low-fat diet high in complex carbohydrates prevented weight gain and disease. I believed what my professors said. Early on, I advocated low-fat diets. But this soon changed."

Practical experience showed that what she'd been taught was wrong. Just bear that in mind. Obviously, athletes have different dietary requirements to fat people with type 2 diabetes. However, suggesting that all athletes eat "complex carbs" (you shouldn't use the expression "complex carbs" as amylopectin & maltodextrin are complex carbs that turn into blood glucose as quickly as glucose) regularly throughout the day, whether bulking or cutting is wrong.

Cheers, Nige."

Vitamin K

From http://www.health-heart.org/acceuil.htm The atheroma 'junk' in the media is cholesterol + calcium in older people.

After Vitamin D, Vitamin K may be the "next big thing" you hear about in the media. Why? Just Google "Vitamin K" and see what comes up. At the top of the list is good ol' Wikipedia.

Vitamin K used to be thought of as only the blood clotting (Koagulation) vitamin, as the liver needs it in order to synthesise Factor X. Some new-borns need Vitamin K injections, to achieve proper blood clotting.

However, Vitamin K is also needed for the carboxylation of osteocalcin in Bone Matrix Gla Proteins. The what of what in what? In simple terms, Vitamin K is needed to ensure that dietary calcium goes into your bones, rather than into your artery walls, kidneys, nervous system, brain, pancreas etc. A lack of Vitamin K can cause osteoporosis. To prevent/treat osteoporosis, either Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) or Vitamin K2 (menaquinone or menatetrenone) will suffice. Only Vitamin K2 can remove calcium from the media of artery walls.

I used 15mg/day of Vitamin K2 (plus 1.5g/day of Ca plus 400mg/day of Mg plus ~1,000iu/day of Vitamin D3) to reverse osteoporosis in my lumbar spine (bone density by DEXA went from -2SD to 0SD) in 3 years. My endocrinologist told me that this was impossible. It definitely happened! Miracles take a little longer ;-)

From The Rotterdam Study:-"The relative risk (RR) of CHD mortality was reduced in the upper tertile (~40.9ug/d) of dietary menaquinone (K2) compared to the lower tertile (~15.1ug/d), RR 0.43, 95% CI: 0.24, 0.77.
Phylloquinone (K1) intake was not related to any of the outcomes."

RR 0.43 means, on average, 57% reduction in heart attack deaths. I've now put K2 in Cholesterol & Coronary Heart Disease.

Vitamin K2 is required for blood glucose regulation. See Vitamin K₂ prevents hyperglycemia and cancellous osteopenia in rats with streptozotocin-induced type 1 diabetes.
Vitamin K2 is required for brain health. See Look after your brain.

Good food sources of Vitamin K2 can be found here.

Warfarin antagonises Vitamin K, so it can result in arterial calcification. Anyone taking warfarin should ask their GP for regular check-ups to keep an eye on this potential problem. Taking Vitamin K supplements makes warfarin ineffective.

As we age, arteries can harden, bones can soften and joints can become painfully calcified. See Calcium shift: An interesting hypothesis for an hypothesis explaining how this can happen, a list of other diseases caused by Calcium Shift, and how to prevent and/or reverse it (the answer's in this post!).

NEW! Speculations on vitamin K, VKORC1 genotype and autism.
"Recent research has documented the protective effect of Vitamin K on neural cells and its role in maintaining normal neural development. Of interest, specific neural effects of Vitamin K overlap with key brain development aberrations, including those associated with autism. Furthermore, Vitamin K protects against oxidative stress associated with toxic exposure."

"...a small sample of severely autistic children of Somali descent residing in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area of Minnesota were genotyped and found to have a higher than expected genetic substitution that results in reduction in the efficiency of the Vitamin K cycle."

Friday, 2 January 2009

Elvis lives!

This bloke said he saw Elvis down the chip shop. What? You mean he was mistaken or lying? Surely not!

Regularly, you read or hear:- "Aspartame gives you cancer!" "Meat gives you cancer!" "Crisps give you cancer!" "Coffee gives you cancer!" "Coffee doesn't give you cancer!" "Coffee gives you cancer!" and so on and so forth...... What are we to believe?

In terms of Diet & Nutritional information, there's a hierarchy of credibility. Here's a rough list of credibility, starting with the least credible and ending with the most credible.

Inexpert Opinion. Basically, anyone can say anything (especially on the internet) but that doesn't make it true. This includes anything that I say, which is why I try to back up what I say with evidence from higher up the pile.

Anecdote/Testimonial. Just because it worked for Joe or Josephine doesn't mean that it'll work for anyone else. There's also the placebo effect e.g. Nothing acts faster than Anadin (so I use nothing!)

Expert opinion. Even "experts" with lots of letters after their names get things wrong and have personal biases, hence the controversies over MMR, HIV/AIDS, Cholesterol etc.

In Vitro (in glass) studies. What happens in Petri dishes/test-tubes etc doesn't necessarily happen in humans.

In Vivo (in life) Animal studies. What happens in rats/monkeys etc doesn't necessarily happen in humans.

Epidemiological (population) Human studies. A being associated with B doesn't necessarily mean that A caused B, as the association may have been due to random chance or due to both being caused by C, D, E........Z etc.

Case studies. The number of subjects is usually quite small and often just 1.

Small and/or non-randomised and/or unblinded and/or non-placebo-controlled and/or non-crossover trials.

Large, Randomised, Double-blinded, Placebo-controlled Crossover trials with a decent Washout.

Meta-studies of large, randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled crossover trials.

Even the last two in the list aren't perfect. Study outcomes can be manipulated by tweaking the methodology (e.g. using pre-trial screening) or statistical jiggery-pokery. If a trial is funded by (a) drugs company(ies), the methods used & the results obtained should be scrutinised very carefully.

EDIT: Systematic Reviews & Meta-studies can be manipulated by including studies with completely different input & output ranges, so as to dilute the data and force a null result. See Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease and Low Carbohydrate versus Isoenergetic Balanced Diets for Reducing Weight and Cardiovascular Risk: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.

Abstracts can misrepresent the data. See Intensive lipid lowering with atorvastatin in patients with coronary heart disease and chronic kidney disease: the TNT (Treating to New Targets) study.
"Conclusion: Aggressive lipid lowering with atorvastatin 80 mg was both safe and effective in reducing the excess of cardiovascular events in a high-risk population with CKD and CHD."

There was a 15-32% reduction in major cardiovascular events. Wow, that's impressive! What the abstract failed to mention is the fact that there were 26 more deaths in the 80mg group, than in the 10mg group. What's worse? Having a major cardiovascular event or being dead?

In conclusion, when you read something in the media, do some research of your own before accepting it as fact. Use Google, Wikipedia, PubMed and the Cochrane Library.

Why counting Calories and weighing yourself regularly can be a waste of time.

To lose weight, eat fewer Calories than you burn. Sounds fairly straightforward, doesn't it?


What is a Calorie?

One dietary Calorie (Cal) is 1000calories, or 1kcal for short. A calorie (cal) is the amount of energy required to heat 1g (1mL) of water by 1degree C. As 1cal is a tiny amount of energy, kcal is commonly used. I prefer to use kcal rather than Cal, as the first word in a sentence is always capitalised which could cause confusion.

The SI unit of energy is the Joule (J) and is the amount of energy required to lift a 1kg weight 1m into the air. As 1J is also a tiny amount of energy, kJ is commonly used. There are 4.186kJ in 1kcal.


Why counting Calories can be a waste of time.

1. When the label on a packet of food states that the food contains Xkcals or YkJ, the number may be inaccurate. See Food Composition Analysis and its Implications for Dietary Planning.

2. Many people are hopeless at judging portion sizes, even when using measuring spoons! Watch the following video made by Leigh Peele called Fat Loss Tips! Shocking!

3. People suffer from "The dieter's Paradox", where they erroneously believe that adding something supposedly healthy to Crap-In-A-Bag/Box/Bottle (CIAB) reduces the total number of calories. See The Dieter’s Paradox – Research Review.

4. If people reach their Calorie intake target for the whole day, but it's only 5pm and they're starving hungry, they're going to eat more food and exceed their target, unless they have supreme willpower. If you're eating the wrong diet, Calorie targets are moot. Find a diet where Calorie intake is naturally reduced, without causing hunger pangs.


Why weighing yourself regularly can be a waste of time.

As mentioned previously, scales cannot distinguish between muscle, body-fat, glycogen+water, urine, faeces etc. Bodyweight can fluctuate considerably on a day-to-day basis. The following list (source forgotten!) lists the effect of various things on body-weight.

Thing________________________Weight change (lb)
Glycogen supercompensation________~+10
Glycogen replenishment/depletion_+/-4 to 5
Pre-menstrual water retention_____~+5
Eating a high-sodium meal__________+2 to 3
Fluid retention on airplane flight +2 to 3
Going to the loo (No.2)____________-1 to 2
Going to the loo (No.1)___________~-0.5
Drinking a mug of tea_____________~+0.5


So step away from the scales. There's nothing to see here, folks! If your belt/clothes are getting tighter, reduce the frequency of eating "treats" (moreish foods that are usually high in sugar, fat, salt & flavourings).

And finally, a little light relief. If I just waffle on about Diet & Nutrition all the time, it can get boring. So here's a YouTube video of a really cool cat that must have watched the Doctor Who episode "Blink". You know, the one with the Weeping Angels. Ninja cat comes closer while not moving!